Moving into part six of my Three Courses in One discussion (the link will take you to part five which can help you get to any of the earlier ones). Today we will move into the poetry section of these courses. For my face to face classes I had planned four weeks of poetry to coincide with National Poetry Month.
To start I assigned a section of the textbook, and I discussed How to Read a poem as well as the “history” of poetry. There are so many different poems that I could start with (besides those in the textbook), but I do often enjoy using something by Taylor Mali since you can compare text to his performance of the text. We had in class discussions, writing assignments (academic and creative), and I discovered that my poetry “training” served me well in the classroom. I was better able to respond when a rogue question came up. I can study and teach lots of things, but the more you know really can make you a better speaker. This got me thinking about how I could use my poetic world view to teach other topics. That should pop up in other lessons I discuss as I go through other courses.
For week two I called the week The Art of Saying. I focused on thinking about the why of poetic choices. We discussed literary terms such as Denotation and Connotation. Week three was called Poetry Nuts and Bolts. Here I got into more of the literary devices: symbols, simile etc. Quite a few of my day students did their final projects by writing poems. I don’t know if they did that because it was the end of the semester, and they needed to finish their project or because they really wanted to try. Either way, I enjoyed reading their words. One of the activities I developed during this time was using a modified version of the game Scattegories. I think this is a good way to think about avoiding cliche. If I role an S and the topic is pasta do you want to be with everyone else saying spaghetti or are you going to try to find a different word so you get a point where no one else does?
I also talked about forms versus free verse briefly during the third week. I developed my linebreak exercise during this course. I won’t share it in full detail (sorry!) cause I use it for my online classes as well, but it gives you a chance to think about why an author chooses to place words in specific places.
Week four was called Sounds and Symbols. We talked about sounds and word play. Depending on the class I could go into a variety of activities. Some could be more basic or we could get into more advanced lessons thinking about how sounds actually effect you physically, and how you can use that in writing. Discussions on rhyme and rhythm also went in well here.
I’m already running out of space! But, I want to mention a few things on covering poetry in these classes. First off I was able to have more engaged discussions with my day class. Discussions were where I really saw the differences between the two classes. My day class had a better grasp on how to analyze and discuss whereas my night class either struggled or just didn’t have the desire to go beyond a base consideration of the work we were doing. I’ll address this a bit more in a later post when I talk about the final results of the class.
When I had the online class later on I only spent two weeks on poetry with them. They used the poems in the textbook along with chapters on how to read/analyze poetry. They had already spent a lot of time with literary terms so I think their ability to discuss poetry had a stronger foundation. They discussed the ones in the book for a week, and then the second week they had to do a written response. The textbook had a poetry and paintings section which I decided to use. They could either write an academic essay about how a particular presented poem and painting worked (or didn’t) together, or they could choose a painting of their own to respond to via poetry. The revisions of these were similar to prior revisions. If they did the academic they had to research and add sources. If they did the poem response I helped them revise, but I also asked them to reflect on the process of responding via poetry as part of their revision.
Sorry for the long post, but hopefully I can finish up next time with the mixed genre section before moving on to another class.
Anyone recall their early studies of poetry? In class or on their own? Is there anything you wished you had covered? Feel you missed? Best assignments etc?